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ON THE COME UP by Hannah Weyer

ON THE COME UP

By Hannah Weyer

Pub Date: July 23rd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-385-53732-2
Publisher: Talese/Doubleday

Thirteen-year-old AnnMarie lives life on the edge in Far Rockaway, Queens, but despite all the odds, she’s ultimately triumphant.

Weyer presents an urban nightmare that’s a deplorable part of too many adolescent lives. AnnMarie lives with her mom, Blessed, and grandmother in the rough, unruly and blighted community of “Far Rock.” She tries to earn extra money for school clothes by selling frozen Kool-Aid and peanut butter punch on the beaches, but she aspires to wear Jordache rather than the polka-dot dresses favored by her mother. School presents its own problems, both academic and social. Skipping school becomes routine since, after all, it’s boring and irrelevant. Much more seductive is the prospect of hanging out with cool friends and smoking weed. School is also full of taunting students, fights in the hallway and the threat of suspension. The only saving grace is choir, for there, AnnMarie has a caring teacher, Mr. Preston, but also The Voice—she can really rock a song. She begins seeing Darius, a high school dropout with no prospects. He gets her pregnant and promises to marry her when she’s 18. But he's not the most trustworthy: Despite his promises, he doesn’t show up at Lamaze classes. One day, AnnMarie sees a poster for musical tryouts: “Girls Wanted. All Shapes and Sizes. No Model Types. Come as You Are.” Needless to say, this starts a new trajectory for AnnMarie’s sense of self and her incipient career.

Weyer writes with an ear for authentic urban teen patois, but no matter how authentic, it’s ultimately wearing on the reader.